Starting off on the right foot: the importance of effective new client onboarding

So, you’ve appointed a new TMC after a competitive pitch. Now the chosen agency must make good on its promises. The first step to achieving that goal is through effective on-boarding. Onboarding is the process for welcoming new clients into a business; how the supplier addresses your questions, how they ensure your stakeholders understand the services they are providing, and how best to use them.

Any TMC that doesn’t get the onboarding process right risks the hard-won new client becoming frustrated, disenchanted – or worse. By contrast, the reward for truly great onboarding is higher client satisfaction, greater engagement and better policy compliance. The Gartner Group says that 80% of any company’s future revenue will come from 20% of its current customers, however many providers prioritise new customer generation ahead of client retention. That seems wrong, especially when you consider that it is up to seven times as expensive to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing one. Then consider that the probability of selling to an existing customer is up to 14 times higher than the probability of selling to a new customer, or that 97% of global consumers say that customer service is important in their choice of and loyalty to a brand. That’s why responsible TMCs invest in onboarding their new clients successfully. Here’s how we do it…

1. Preparing early by making sure our team understands your needs, goals and outcomes; the strengths and weaknesses of the current travel programme, focussing on key areas for improvement and on creating a roll-out plan to move forward.

2. Assessing each new client’s travel policy, booking process, traveller profile information and desired compliance levels.

3. Turning that 360-degree view into measurable goals and presenting these in an onboarding checklist to both our client and our own team, making sure that we don’t promise anything we cannot deliver.

4. Having a kick-off meeting or call so make sure we and you, our client, are completely aligned in terms of priorities and the roll-out plan.

5. Briefing everyone involved in every new account, from booking tool developers to finance. Anyone involved with delivering to your organisation, your stakeholders must be on the same page before we take your first booking.

6. Making sure our client relationship team has all the tools and online resources at their disposal to demonstrate the benefits of working with us. From travel risk management and alerts to travel itinerary apps, reporting and so on.

7. Checking in with you after 30 days to get feedback on how travel processes are going and to the process is going and any concerns they may have arisen in the past 30 days.

8. Continuing to focus on retaining and growing your account, refining the service through regular, but not irritating, traveler communication, and making sure that our onboarding and customer service teams stay aligned.

9. Investing in onboarding new employees just as effectively as we do new clients. 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding

10. Seeing your travel program through your eyes, focussing on the full customer journey rather than the individual transactions between customer and supplier. Ultimately, any onboarding process involves an element of trial and error, but that risk is mitigated through experience, and having the systems in place to track workflow and monitor satisfaction amongst travelers and other stakeholders.

After all, a satisfied client is more likely to refer or recommend the business. In this digital age, word of mouth is still a potent selling tool. Up to 50% of purchases come as a result of recommendation; a compelling reason for making sure every new client is robustly onboarded.